To the exposition of the commandments and rights of Israel Moses adds, in closing, another ordinance respecting those gifts, which were most intimately connected with social and domestic life, viz., the first-fruits and second tithes, for the purpose of giving the proper consecration to the attitude of the nation towards its Lord and God.
Of the first of the fruit of the ground, which was presented from the land received from the Lord, the Israelites was to take a portion (מֵרֵאשִׁית with מִן partitive), and bring it in a basket to the place of the sanctuary, and give it to the priest who should be there, with the words, “I have made known to-day to the Lord thy God, that I have come into the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us,” upon which the priest should take the basket and put it down before the altar of Jehovah (Deu 26:1-4). From the partitive מֵרֵאשִׁית we cannot infer, as Schultz supposes, that the first-fruits were not to be all delivered at the sanctuary, any more than this can be inferred from Exo 23:19 (see the explanation of this passage). All that is implied is, that, for the purpose described afterwards, it was not necessary to put all the offerings of first-fruits into a basket and set them down before the altar. טֶנֶא (Deu 26:2, Deu 26:4, and Deu 28:5, Deu 28:17) is a basket of wicker-work, and not, as Knobel maintains, the Deuteronomist's word for צִנְצֶנֶת rof (Exo 16:33. “The priest” is not the high priest, but the priest who had to attend to the altar-service and receive the sacrificial gifts. - The words, “I have to-day made known to the Lord thy God,” refer to the practical confession which was made by the presentation of the first-fruits. The fruit was the tangible proof that they were in possession of the land, and the presentation of the first of this fruit the practical confession that they were indebted to the Lord for the land. This confession the offerer was also to embody in a prayer of thanksgiving, after the basket had been received by the priest, in which he confessed that he and his people owed their existence and welfare to the grace of God, manifested in the miraculous redemption of Israel out of the oppression of Egypt and their guidance into Canaan.
אָבִי אִבֵד אֲרַמִּי, “a lost (perishing) Aramaean was my father” (not the Aramaean, Laban, wanted to destroy my father, Jacob, as the Chald., Arab., Luther, and others render it). אִבֵד signifies not only going astray, wandering, but perishing, in danger of perishing, as in Job 29:13; Pro 31:6, etc. Jacob is referred to, for it was he who went down to Egypt in few men. He is mentioned as the tribe-father of the nation, because the nation was directly descended from his sons, and also derived its name of Israel from him. Jacob is called in Aramaean, not only because of his long sojourn in Aramaea (Gen 29-31), but also because he got his wives and children there (cf. Hos 12:13); and the relatives of the patriarchs had accompanied Abraham from Chaldaea to Mesopotamia (Aram; see Gen 11:30). מְעַט בִּמְתֵי, consisting of few men (בְּ, the so-called beth essent., as in Deu 10:22; Exo 6:3, etc.; vid., Ewald, §299, q.). Compare Gen 34:30, where Jacob himself describes his family as “few in number.” On the number in the family that migrated into Egypt, reckoned at seventy souls, see the explanation at Gen 46:27. On the multiplication in Egypt into a great and strong people, see Exo 1:7, Exo 1:9; and on the oppression endured there, Exo 1:11-22, and Exo 2:23. - The guidance out of Egypt amidst great signs (Deu 26:8), as in Deu 4:34.
“So shalt thou set it down (the basket with the first-fruits) before Jehovah.” These words are not to be understood, as Clericus, Knobel, and others suppose, in direct opposition to Deu 26:4 and Deu 26:5, as implying that the offerer had held the basket in his hand during the prayer, but simply as a remark which closes the instructions.
Rejoicing in all the good, etc., points to the joy connected with the sacrificial meal, which followed the act of worship (as in Deu 12:12). The presentation of the first-fruits took place, no doubt, on their pilgrimages to the sanctuary at the three yearly festivals (ch. 16); but it is quite without ground that Riehm restricts these words to the sacrificial meals to be prepared from the tithes, as if they had been the only sacrificial meals (see at Deu 18:3).